Baton Rouge CityStats Reveals Inadequacies Wednesday, Apr 7 2010 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation released their CityStats study for East Baton Rouge Parish earlier this week.  It’s an insightful look into the Red Stick’s Quality of Life, and worth reading.

CityStats provides information on facts such as:

  • Over a 5-year period, library readership has declined 14%, and library computer use declined 9.5% in a 2-year period.  Nevertheless, we are spending tens of millions to build new libraries.
  • Unemployment nearly doubled from 3.6% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2009, and is expected to increase.
  • Adjudicated properties increased by 54% in one year due for failure to pay property taxes.
  • Outward migration nearly doubled over the past five years, excluding Katrina which increased dramatically.
  • Patents dropped 14% over a 5-year period.
  • High school dropouts increased from 6.4% to 9.8% in four years.
  • High school graduates dropped 12.9% over a 4-year period.
  • Public and private school enrollment has experienced a steady decrease over a 4-year period.
  • A decline of 20% less qualified teachers over a 4-year period.
  • Toxic releases into the environment increased 32% over a 4-year period.
  • Our infant mortality rate is more than twice the national average.
  • Cases of sexually transmitted diseases remained the same or increased over a 5-year period.
  • An increase in commute time since 2004 was experienced while a decrease in airport use was experienced.
  • While bus ridership has increased, bus routes have decreased.
  • Violent crime has increased as compared to 4 years ago with the exception of Baker and Zachary. (See page 49 for full statistics.)
  • More than 1/4 of families in East Baton Rouge Parish experienced the inability to provide meals over the past year.
  • Child abuse has increased over the past year.

There are some positive factors, but frankly, they are outweighed by the tremendous volume of serious concerns over the quality of life issues for our parish.

Remind me again who the politicians and leaders are that kept telling us the Red Stick was not touched by the recession?

There is a huge difference between maintaining a healthy positive outlook and absolute denial.  Judgement begins in the actions of politicians and community leaders who have been handing out rose-colored glasses.

We need to get back to basics.  It begins in the Mayor-President’s office and in the seat of the Metro Council.  We have reached so deep into the pockets of taxpayers to create plans that are not improving the true Quality of Life for our citizens according to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s CityStats study.  

Our Mayor-President has had free rein to wrecklessly increase our city-parish budget during his 6-year tenure.  Take a look:

  • $563 million in 2005
  • $592 million in 2006
  • $621 million in 2007
  • $679 million in 2008
  • $694.9 million in 2009
  • $701.1 million in 2010

Do the math.  That’s a 40% increase to the tune of $138.1 million in City-Parish spending by Mayor-President Kip Holden in six years.

Enough said.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Red Stick Unemployment Lines Growing Thursday, May 21 2009 

Updates!

  • Sunland Pipe, a Shaw Group company, laid off about 40 workers.  Last month they laid off 200 in North Louisiana.  Shaw claims this is due to the downturn in fabrication work. 
  • 100 contract maintenance workers at the Georgia Gulf plant have been laid off.  Reports indicate they are employed by Turner Industries as maintenance personnel. 

unemployment

Despite Mayor-President Kip Holden’s hyperbole claiming the Red Stick has been immune to the recession, news reports continue to prove otherwise.  Recent announcements were made that hundreds of jobs in the Red Stick are vanishing before our very eyes, and thousands of employees will feel the pinch of the cost of living while their paychecks shrink. 

It’s the tip of the iceberg since the news only reports on large employers or ‘newsworthy’ companies.  (No offense intended to every business that has closed or individual who has been laid off.) 

Capitol One Bank announced yesterday that approximately 22% of their work force, 180 employees, will be cut over the next few months.  

Chrysler and General Motor dealers in the Red Stick still await their fate, as do employees that earn in excess of $21 hourly.  According to Louisiana State Treasurer, John Kennedy, dealership losses are expected to deliver a blow of up to $350 million with a loss of up to $50 million in state taxes.  Dealers are being notified via mail.

Though Trinity Marine is located in Brusly, many employees travel from the Greater Baton Rouge area to work at the barge manufacturer.  Over 190 employees are expected to lose their jobs in the immediate future according to reports earlier this week.

The Red Stick’s pride and joy, Pennington Biomedical, chose the higher road by announcing no pay raises for 452 employees vs layoffs.  This could be a temporary measure, however, since Pennington receives significant funding from the troubled treasure chest of the state of Louisiana. 

The Advocate took the lower road by announcing that approximately 10% of their staff, 49 employees, will learn their fate  today when they receive their dismissal papers.

In June, Louisiana Civil Service will make a decision as to whether merit increases are eliminated in lieu of state worker layoffs.  This move stands to significantly affect Red Stick workers as agencies are headquartered in the capitol city.

Southern University, based in the Red Stick, is discussing layoffs and one-day-a-month unpaid furloughs for university employees.  LSU is in the news daily, discussing major cuts in personnel and services.

There are far too many stories in the naked city.  Troubling times.  Budget cuts.  Benefit costs being passed on to employees.  Unpaid furloughs.  Businesses shutting down.  Enough facts to challenge the ‘Baton Rouge has survived the recession without a blemish’ to say the least.

The problem with politicians like Mayor-President Kip Holden is that they cannot comprehend budget cuts.  Spendthrift is primary in Holden’s vocabulary evidenced by his plan to raise taxes on voters this fall.  It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money.  Business owners, on the other hand, are more in tune with strict budgets, the cost of doing business, and less than bottomless funding scenarios.

Loren Scott has continuously told us that the Red Stick is in good financial shape.  Now, he claims the third quarter predictions are grim for the parish.  I’m glad he is taking a peek into the real world the rest of us are already living in today.

What can we do?  Buckle down folks.  Shop mindfully.  Spend wisely.  Squeeze whatever you can into savings.  Take it on as a challenge. 

Reach out.  Share the fruit of your labors with those less fortunate.  These are the times that make us stronger and better. 

Let’s not do as the politicians, and bury our heads in the sand.  We can remain positive, cautiously.  This too shall pass.  And, if it doesn’t, let’s demand that elected officials cut the necessary fat, not raise taxes, and join the rest of us in working towards a sounder financial future in the Red Stick.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican